Sovereign Over Us


I've never really experienced true shock and denial before. That moment you're presented with news, and your response is no, that's impossible. That moment where you ask the person to repeat themselves because surely you misunderstood them. I've never felt that before. Not when Judah was only a few months old and we were told he had a rare blood disorder. He had been sick so much we were just relieved to finally know what was causing it. Not even 2 years ago when we found out he had cancer. When they told us he had the blood disorder they said there was a possibility he could develop cancer. So I've never experienced that. That is, until this past Tuesday.

Our boys do one of those hybrid homeschool things (they attend the school 2 days a week, and we homeschool them the other days). And this school is awesome. They've been so kind and supportive to us over the years. The month of October has been spirit month (like spirit week, but spread out over the month since most of the kids that attend this school only come on Tuesdays). So each Tuesday this month the kids have been allowed to come to school dressed up for different themes. This past Tuesday was pajama day. What was really neat is, as many of you may know, over the years we have collected pajamas and donated to the Children's Hospital. So our boys' school joined in on this and asked families to bring new pajamas and DVDs with them to donate. So it was so cool Tuesday morning when I dropped the boys off at school to see this pile of pajamas and DVDs that had been collected.

When I came back Tuesday afternoon to pick them up the school had asked if I would come inside, and not go through the carpool line. Apparently, they had something they wanted to give us. I got to the school and went in and got the boys and then found one of the directors and she had this potted flower, balloons, and a gift bag filled a movie, candies, snacks, and several gift cards to restaurants for our family. Our family had just recently celebrated Judah's 2 years post-transplant anniversary, and they wanted to celebrate with us. It was such a sweet and kind gesture from them.

I walked the boys out to the car with these gifts. It was sunny. There was a cool crispness to the air. Life was good.

We had just turned out of the parking lot when my phone rang. I don't like talking on the phone but it was Vanessa, and I like talking to her, so I answered it. The first thing she said was 'Am I on speaker phone?' Depending on the situation, that can be a good or bad question. Perhaps she wants to whisper sweet nothings in my ear and doesn't want the boys to hear. Or maybe she's going to ask about doing something that the kids would find fun and if they find out about it they'd obsess it. Or it could be bad. There was pain and sadness in her voice. It sounded like she'd been crying. Crap.

I took her off the car speaker and said what's wrong. She said I just spoke with the Dr. It's not good. His cancer is coming back and he needs another transplant. She's had some success treating this kind, but she doesn't want to lie to us, it's more difficult to treat and the statistics are not on our side.

I didn't believe her. That's not possible. Life is good. We just celebrated his 2 year anniversary. They told us last week the results looked 'perfect'. Clearly I'm misunderstanding something. It was only for a few a seconds, but I was in shock and denial. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I didn't believe what I was hearing.

'Say all of that again', I said. She couldn't. She was crying. But I didn't need to hear her repeat it. Those sobs I heard over the phone told me all I needed to know. So I joined her in crying.

In those early hours after this news I've come to better understand groanings too deep for words. Through sobs all I could muster to God was 'Why?'

I've sensed the war raging inside of me between the Spirit and the flesh. I know what God says. I know the promises He's made. But the flesh fights back. God isn't good. He isn't in control. He doesn't love us.

These last roughly 36 hours have been somewhat of a blur. Lots of tears, lots of conversations with Drs, insurance, family and friends, and there's this cloud that is now just hovering over us.

And if I'm honest, there's a wall that has surfaced. It's been hard to pray. I've literally had moments where I tried to pray but the words just weren't there. My flesh wants me to be angry with God. But in the midst of this pain and sorrow, and the blurriness of the last 2 days, God has slowly been chipping away at that wall.

Tuesday evening my parents came over to be with us. At some point my mom responded to a group text she's on with her brothers and sister and some other family members. There's a relative on this group text that she didn't realize was on there and this relative reached out to my mom. This relative lives in Charleston, and has a separate apartment at their home that they'd be happy for us to use. It has 2 bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. And get this. When we looked up the address, the house is only a few blocks from the hospital (and also Riverfront Park). Wow.

Chip, chip, chip. God began to chip away at that wall. That news was like a nice breeze across your face when you're in the scorching desert.

Our church is currently studying through the book of Exodus, and this Sunday we'll be at the parting of the Red Sea. But originally that wasn't the plan. That was supposed to happen last week. But then about a month ago we ended up restructuring the series, which moved this part of the text to this coming Sunday. After receiving the news we have I can't think of a better place in scripture to be than at one of the most desperate moments in scripture. The Israelites are finally out of Egypt. The thing they have longed for for so long. But now they find themselves in a barren land with a sea in front of them, and an angry Pharaoh and army behind them. That's not how it was supposed to go, right? But nothing is impossible for the Lord. And He would prove that in this moment.

Chip, chip, chip. God continues to chip away.

Later Tuesday evening I got a text from our worship leader with what he was proposing as the final set list of songs for church this coming Sunday (we hadn't announced any of this news yet, so he didn't know what was going on with us). And I honestly didn't pay that much attention to what he sent me. I trust him and so I just wrote back and said looks good. Wednesday I had to do some yardwork, so I decided to download the songs onto my Spotify app to listen to them while I worked. I spent the next roughly 25 minutes crying my eyes out...while doing yardwork. I'm sure anyone who saw me thought I was crazy. The songs were exactly what my soul needed to hear. Listen to some of these words:

Sovereign Over Us (Aaron Keyes)

"There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear

You're the lifter of the lowly
Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me
And Your promises are my delight

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good
You turn it for our good
And for Your glory
Even in the valley You are faithful
You're working for our good
You're working for our good
And for Your glory

Your plans are still to prosper
You've not forgotten us
You're with us in the fire and the flood
Faithful forever perfect in love
You are sov'reign over us"

A Mighty Fortress (Heartsong)

"And tho' this world with devils filled
Should threaten to undo us
We will not fear for God hath willed
His truth to triumph thru us

A Mighty Fortress is our God
His kingdom is forever"

Do it Again (Elevation Worship)

"Walking around these walls
I thought by now they'd fall
But you have never failed me yet
Waiting for change to come
Knowing the battle's won
For you have never failed me yet

I know the night won't last
Your word will come to pass
My heart will sing your praise again
Jesus you're still enough
Keep me within your love
My heart will sing your praise again

I've seen you move
You move the mountains
And I believe
I'll see you do it again
You made a way
Where there was no way
And I believe
I'll see you do it again

Your promise still stands
Great is your faithfulness
I'm still in your hands
This is my confidence
You've never failed me yet"

Every Mother Every Father (Porters Gate)

"Every mother every father
Called to raise up sons or daughters
May your heart be patient
May your mind be clear
May our God be with you and calm your fears"

Red Sea Road (Ellie Holcomb)

"How can we trust
When you say you will deliver us
From all of this pain
That threatens to take over us well
Well this desert’s dry but the ocean may consume
And we’re scared to follow you

Oh help us believe
You are faithful you’re faithful
When our hearts are breaking
You are faithful you’re faithful
Oh grant us eyes to see
You are faithful you’re faithful
Teach us to sing
You are faithful you’re faithful
You’re faithful

We will sing to our souls
We won’t bury our hope
Where He leads us to go there’s a red sea road
When we can’t see the way He will part the waves
And we’ll never walk alone down a red sea road"

We Will Feast in the House of Zion (Sandra McCracken)

"We will not be burned by the fire
He is the Lord our God
We are not consumed by the flood
Upheld protected gathered up

In the dark of night before the dawn
My soul be not afraid
For the promised morning oh how long
Oh God of Jacob be my strength

We will feast in the house of Zion
We will sing with our hearts restored
He has done great things we will say together
We will feast and weep no more"

Gosh. My flesh wants to be angry at God, but despite my unfaithfulness, He lovingly and faithfully continues to chip away that wall and draw me to Himself.

I could list several more of these examples that have occurred. I could mention how on this exact date 2 years ago when Judah was in the PICU, Vanessa posted about a mom she met whose child was also in the PICU. This child, according to the Drs., wasn't going to make it early on. And yet, here they were, some 200+ days since first being admitted to the hospital, and they were about to release her from PICU because she was doing well. In that post, again, that just happened to be posted exactly 2 years ago so that it would pop up on Vanessa's facebook memories today, Vanessa said this “I need not be afraid of the miracle maker. The Author of life.”

Chip, after freaking chip. God is relentless. I can't deny His sovereignty. Yes, this absolutely sucks. It's terrifying to think that maybe our child won't make it this time. I'm reduced to tears every time the question crosses my mind, 'was that the last time I will experience this with Judah?'. Knowing what the transplant process is like...knowing the pain Judah will be in...knowing how exhausting that road is overwhelming to think about the fact we have to walk it again. But I can't deny God's sovereignty. I can't deny that He is orchestrating this. There are too many things that have happened in just these past 36 hours that it would be absolutely foolish to write off as chance, or luck, or coincidence.

And if God is orchestrating this. And if He's never before proven Himself to be unfaithful or not good, then all I can do is cling to the hope that He is good. That He is in control. That He loves me. He loves Vanessa. He loves Cai. And he loves Judah. In fact, He loves Judah far more than Vanessa or I can or ever will. And His plan for us is far better than any plan we could ever imagine.

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